Protecting your family: Tips to identify suspicious behavior
THE WOODLANDS -- In many of our articles we discuss awareness and observation as a primary foundation to personal safety.
But what really are we looking for when we pay attention?
For most of us, our normal assessment application is to look at appearances. If it looks like a “dirt bag”; we will conclude that it is a “dirt bag”. As an example: if we saw a young person in droopy pants and a hoodie in a nice neighborhood, we might think that suspicious. The problem is our suspicions are biased with a preconceived assessment based on appearance. The flaw in this assessment is that we may miss the action or behavior that is the foundation of a crime because the actor seems to “fit”.
What if you witnessed an attractive, "clean cut" teen walking down the street; but at every car passed, they were pulling on the handles of the doors of the cars seeing if one is unlocked! The act, not the appearance should be the foundation of our witness and the reason for suspicion. The appearance of the teen would generally be ignored, but the actions would indicate suspicious, and possibly criminal activity.
As concerned citizens we keep an eye on our blocks, we scope out the parking lot at work and while shopping and scan our surroundings as we travel. Are we looking for people that appear “out of place”, or the actions that we witness as "out of place" or inappropriate!
Here are few "behaviors, or actions" that are suspicious regardless of the look of the actor: 1) Peering in parked cars, or "trying the door handle", 2) Vehicle sitting in the same place for a long time with the engine running (a pool of water under the car from the AC, an accumulation of trash or cigarettes beside the vehicle, etc.), 3) The same vehicle passing back and forth on a quiet residential street (or driving around a residential community with the lights off at night), 4) A stranger loitering through the neighborhood with no obvious purpose.
If such behaviors are witnessed, regardless of the appearance of the actor, call the non-emergency number for local law enforcement as soon as possible. However, if you are witness to a criminal act as a result of watching suspicious behavior, call 911 immediately. Describe the act and the actors; remember details and take pictures if you can do so without you risking your safety.
Be Aware and Be Safe.